Tuesday, July 31, 2012

$609.75 for a meal? And 5 trips to Vegas, 4 trips paid for from your campaign account? And NO town hall meetings? Billy Long, you should be ashamed!

Billy Long spent $609.75 for one meal?

WTF Billy Long! And not only that, you said,"The people in Southwest Missouri are paying for it!"

In my best Lewis Black impression: WTF Billy Long?!

And now you're gambling again?

At you stayed the Hotel of the Rich and Famous: The Venetian Resort Hotel at the same time they were holding their high stakes poker tournament? (All guest rooms feature refreshment centers, safes, three telephones, TVs, modem lines, and fax/print/copy machines.)

Ah jeez Billy.

Does the guy who lives in this house know what you are spending your campaign donations on? Trips to Las Vegas? Luxury suites, $600 meals?

Oh Billy, what are we going to do with you?

Randy Turner, of The Turner Report filed this report on July 30, 2012 this report: Billy Long not fed up with Las Vegas; contributors have paid for four trips this year:

A disclosure report filed Friday with the Federal Election Commission shows yet another Las Vegas trip for Seventh District Congressman Billy Long.

The trip is at least the fifth one this year, and of those five trips, money for four came from his campaign bank account.

The latest disclosure report, covering the time period since July 1, shows Long reporting $936.32 for a stay at the Venetian Hotel. The date listed on the item is July 5. Apparently, earlier that day Long spent $609.29 for a meal at Tortilla Coast in Washington. D. C., a place where one reviewer wrote, "The food is great; the drinks are perfectly strong, but not too strong."

It is not clear what campaign event Long was attending in Las Vegas, but if he stayed at the Venetian Hotel on July 5 as the disclosure report indicates, he certainly picked a busy day at the hotel. On that same day, according to the hotel website, things were hopping at the Venetian Poker Room, especially in the "high-stakes area, featuring seven high-limit tables, two relaxation areas, butler service, and gourmet dining."

And as part of the poker room's "Deep Stack Extravaganza," a tournament was being held July 5, No Limit Hold 'Em with a $2,375 buy-in, a $125 entry fee, and a prize pot of $382,200.

Long's July quarterly report, filed on the 14th, indicates he made two trips to Vegas. As I noted in the July 17 Turner Report:

The report appears to show two trips to Vegas for Long since he has a listing for Allegiant Air, Las Vegas, $451.58 on May 21, and lists a meal at Mars Retail, Las Vegas, on April 11, with a cost of $303.74.

The first quarter disclosure report also shows a Vegas trip paid for by Long's campaign contributors, $241.26 for a flight with Allegiant Air, Las Vegas, on March 5.

Long made a fifth Vegas trip, but this was not billed to his campaign account. As I wrote in the Feb. 13 Turner Report:

In-person town hall meetings seem to be a thing of the past for Seventh District Congressman Billy Long, but junkets to Las Vegas, paid for by special interest groups, are on his approved list.

The Washington newspaper Roll Call reports today that the Consumer Electronics Association paid $2,000 for three days of Long's four-day stay in Sin City from Jan. 8-11. Records show Long paid his own expenses for one of the four days:

Travel disclosure reports filed with the House Ethics Committee show that participants used an exemption that permits additional travel time to far-off locations and paid their own hotel bills for an extra day or two, allowing them to spend several days in Vegas and still accept round-trip airfare and other expenses from the association — exactly what a 2007 rules change was supposed to eliminate.

The 110th Congress enacted new rules that bar entities that retain or employ lobbyists from sponsoring most forms of Congressional travel that last more than one day but left open the possibility that an additional night’s lodging would be approved in “exceptional” circumstances and that travelers could extend the trip out of their own pocket. Combined, the two provisions allow a one-day trip to morph into an excursion of four or more days.

“The point is to make sure these trips are business-related and do not turn into vacation junkets,” Public Citizen’s Craig Holman said. “By combining these two, it turns what should be a quick business trip into a junket. This is exactly what we wanted to stop.”

Long's pre-primary report also shows that he has spent $387,834.52 during this election cycle. He still has $389,508.76 in the bank.
Last January The Bus reported on Roll Call's accounting of Long's trip to Vegas: Loopholes Allowed for Long Vacation in Vegas. You gotta love that headline!
You gotta love that headline!
Rep. Billy Long (R-Mo.), for example, flew to Las Vegas on Jan. 8 for a four-day trip, leaving the city Jan. 11. The association spent about $2,000 on hotel accommodations at the Wynn Casino, airfare and meals for Long and his wife. A post-travel disclosure form filed with the Ethics Committee shows that Long spent Jan. 8 in Las Vegas at his own expense, leaving two and half additional days to attend the conference and sightsee. Long’s office did not respond to requests for comment.

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